Isthmia IX

Isthmia IX: The Roman and Byzantine Graves and Human Remains

JOSEPH L. RIFE
Series: Isthmia
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 512
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2972/j.ctt2jbhw3
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  • Book Info
    Isthmia IX
    Book Description:

    This study describes and interprets the graves and human remains of Roman and Byzantine date recovered by excavation between 1954 and 1976 in several locales around the Isthmian Sanctuary and the succeeding fortifications. This material provides important evidence for both death and life in the Greek countryside during the Late Roman to Early Byzantine periods. Examination of burial within the local settlement, comparative study of mortuary behavior, and analysis of skeletal morphology, ancient demography, oral health and paleopathology all contribute to a picture of the rural Corinthians over this transitional era as interactive, resilient and modestly innovative.

    eISBN: 978-1-62139-008-4
    Subjects: History, Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. xv-xx)
  4. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  5. BIBLIOGRAPHY AND ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xxiii-xlviii)
  6. 1 THEMES, PROCEDURES, AND MATERIALS
    (pp. 1-18)

    This study describes and interprets the graves and human remains of Roman and Byzantine date in the area of the Panhellenic sanctuary¹ and the succeeding fortifications on the Isthmus of Corinth, which were excavated under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies between 1954 and 1976 (Figs. 1.1–1.3). These burials belonged to local residents during several phases in the long history of their settlement. Most date to the Late Roman and Early Byzantine periods (end of the 4th to late 7th or 8th centuries), but a few date to the Early to Middle Roman (mid-1st to 4th...

  7. PART I: THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL, HISTORICAL, AND SOCIAL CONTEXT OF THE GRAVES
    • 2 THE GRAVES AND ASSOCIATED REMAINS
      (pp. 21-112)

      This chapter surveys the graves and their associated remains. As has been previously discussed, various natural and human agents have shaped the condition of the graves since their creation. Although the mortuary remains at the Isthmus are not perfectly preserved, they are sufficiently intact to furnish substantial evidence for local topography and history, funerary rituals, and the social, economic, and religious character of the resident community over a period of several centuries. The first section of this chapter discusses the burial sites as the archaeological dimensions of mortuary behavior. The second discusses the techniques for dating the burials. The third...

    • 3 BURIAL CHRONOLOGY, TOPOGRAPHY, AND HISTORY OF SETTLEMENT
      (pp. 113-152)

      The 30 graves containing at least 69 individuals uncovered by excavations at the Isthmus provide important evidence for the chronology, topography, and history of settlement. In order to trace diachronic patterns in the social and bioarchaeological character of the local residents as reflected by their graves (Chap. 4) and their bones and teeth (Chaps. 5–7), it is necessary to establish the long sequence of interment. The fact that graves of different dates have been found in every major area of excavation since 1954 proves that habitation was neither restricted nor brief. Since residents would not have buried their dead...

    • 4 FUNERARY RITUAL, MORTUARY VARIABILITY, AND SOCIETY
      (pp. 153-232)

      This chapter surveys the historical evidence for funerary ritual in Greek society during the Roman and Byzantine eras, examines the graves at the Isthmus and their regional comparanda as evidence for the ritual process, and relates mortuary variability to social structure and ideology in the changing community. The mortuary and osteological data pertaining to this discussion are summarized in Table 4.1. Despite their small number, the 30 graves offer a reliable picture of local funerary ritual because they represent the interests of over twice as many individuals, a significant sample. The graves at the Northeast Gate, Hexamilion Outworks, and Tower...

  8. PART II: THE OSTEOLOGICAL AND BIOARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT OF THE HUMAN REMAINS
    • 5 THE CONDITION AND COMPOSITION OF THE HUMAN REMAINS
      (pp. 235-292)

      The human remains found at the Isthmus provide important evidence for the biological history of the Corinthian countryside from Roman to Byzantine times. In my discussion of the examination of the bones and teeth (Chaps. 5–7), I will consider both their osteological character as the hard tissues of a living skeletal structure and their bioarchaeological significance as dynamic factors in a particular natural and social environment. In the ensuing chapters I will describe the procedures and standards used, presenting the material through descriptions, tables, and figures, and I will use the data to reconstruct the biological identity of local...

    • 6 TEETH AND ORAL HEALTH
      (pp. 293-366)

      The mouth is the orifice through which oxygen, food, and drink pass from the natural environment into the human body. It is also the site of initial digestion and mastication, a tool for the manipulation of materials, a central feature of the facial anatomy, and a part of the body closely linked to the perception of personal identity, in no small part due to its role in articulating language. Injuries to the head can alter the shape of the mouth and impair its functions. The condition of the teeth and contiguous soft tissues contributes significantly to an individual’s physical appearance...

    • 7 PALEOPATHOLOGY AND PALEOEPIDEMIOLOGY
      (pp. 367-456)

      Paleopathology is the study of illness and injury in ancient times. While the subject is of intrinsic interest to the historian of disease, it can also shed light on past society and economy. For example, paleopathological analysis has elucidated the causes and effects of the Neolithic adoption of farming, the conditions of habitation in prehistoric and historic contexts, and the nature of social stratification in the New World, the ancient Mediterranean, and other regions.¹ The evidence for past illnesses and injuries, however, is sparse and its interpretation difficult. Mediterranean societies that produced plentiful textual records of their mode and quality...

    • 8 LIFE AND DEATH AT THE ISTHMUS BETWEEN ROME AND BYZANTIUM
      (pp. 457-468)

      The geographic phenomenon of the isthmus constitutes a spatial paradox. It forms a moment in the landscape from which the traveler can view not only two segregated bodies of water but also two contiguous landmasses. Depending on the perspective and purpose of the journey, one could define this neck of land either as a bridge linking two terrains or as a barrier separating two waters. It is an appropriate image with which to conclude this study, both because a particular isthmus has been the main subject and because the times between classical antiquity and the Byzantine middle ages may be...

    • APPENDIX: METRIC AND NONMETRIC TRAITS IN THE SKELETAL SAMPLE
      (pp. 469-478)
  9. INDEXES